EIFF – Day 3
My third day involved me going to two Press and Industry Screenings and one Public Screening. The Press screenings I attended were the Gabe Turner directed The Guvnors and the Graham Hughes directed A Practical Guide to a Spectacular Suicide. As for the public screening, that was the Gia Coppola directed Palo Alto.
This violent thriller directed by Gabe Turner features a gang war between two generations of London gangsters as they battle for control. Mitch (Doug Allen) is a retired gangster who has swapped the life of intimidation and beatings for a life of office work and family raising. He is inspired to return to his roots and bring together his old group after the murder of an old friend. A review embargo prevents me from saying any more about it.
I really enjoyed this movie despite the fact that it seemed to be going out of its way to shock the audience. There were many scenes showcasing graphic beatings or really intense intimidation, some of which could really have been done without. None of the characters were especially likeable with the exception of Mickey (David Essex) but I feel that this was sort of the point given that it was more about deciding which was the lesser of two evils in terms of running a society made up of gangs and thugs. Well worth a watch but sometimes a little too gruesome.
Based on the short stories by James Franco about the troubled lives of teenagers in Palo Alto. The film focuses on a number of these teenagers who are all tangentally connected to one another. Chief among them is the story of a young girl named April (Emma Roberts) becoming involved with her Soccer coach (James Franco) whom she babysits for.
Gia Coppla’s directorial debut is a good one, the story is well structured and the large cast are handled very well as is the intercutting between all of the stories. Each teen character has their own story that blends into a larger narrative connected by the schoolyard. The dialogue is raw and believable as are the performances, Franco excels at being unsettling as he creeps on the young April. Emma Roberts comes across as completely naive and innocent as well as having enough savvy to survive in a teenage pressure filled pressure cooker. None of the events are glorified in any way which helps make the film feel more real. In a lot of ways this is how an American version of the UK show Skins should have been approached and it is absolutely worth a watch.
Tom is a guy who really wants to kill himself for unspecified reasons but can’t seem to get it right. He writes a blog about planning this suicide and points out his unsuccessful attempts. As he does this he is mandated into community service in the form of helping an old man around the house as well as attending therapy sessions with a disinterested therapist. Through all of this he meets a woman his age named Eve who initially wants to help him find an epic way to off himself.
With a title like that, who’d have expected an upbeat comedy? I was pretty surprised but not as surprised as I was to find out that it actually works really well. The film takes such a dark subject very lightly and manages to find the humour in such a tragic act. It is massively helped by the cast of very likeable characters. Tom (Graeme McGeagh) is very relatable due to coming across as a fairly normal guy who simply just doesn’t like being alive for some reason. Throughout the film he encourages the viewer to root for him as he prepares to meet his maker. Eve (Annabel Logan), Dr. Watson (Patrick O’Brien) and Mr. Neilson (Ray Crofter) are all similarly likeable characters who help him unlock different facets of his personality in an effort to show him that life is actually worth living. I won’t spoil whether this works but the results are hilarious as well as being touching at various points. I’ll do a full review of this later but for now definitely see this movie, it really has to be seen to be believed.